February 26, 2012

A Personal Update {My Life}

If you just began reading the Jennifer Leigh Photography blog, you may not know the roller coaster ride I have been on for the last 6 months.

Short synopsis:
  • I suddenly suffered 4 seizures in 24 hours back in August 2011 and was thought to have a brain tumor.
  • A week later, I had a scary brain biopsy in Savannah, which went very well.
  • I changed doctors because I wasn't happy with the little info my first doctor gave me, and I just didn't feel like he was the person that I wanted to continue to treat me.  (Thank you, Andrea, for getting me an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, you lifesaver, you!)
  • On September 24, 2011, I got married!!
  • An fMRI (functional MRI) at Mayo in September showed the "tumor" had shrunk to 20% of the original size, indicating that it was not a tumor.  (Whew!)  But no diagnosis was decided upon at that time.
  • A follow-up MRI was scheduled for Feb 29, 2012, to see what changes had happened in my brain, if any. 
You can also read the related blog posts that go into more detail about my medical adventure:




Since my husband was going to be out of town for 2 weeks on Feb 29th, we secretly decided to move my appointment up to Feb 23rd so he could be with me.  I also moved it up because I started to doubt the amazing health I had been experiencing.  Don't get me wrong - I felt completely fine.  More than fine, actually.  I think back in September when we made my end-of-February appointment, it took a lot for me to push the unknown and the feelings that went along with "not knowing" out of my head. (no pun intended)  I went through all the holidays with the faintly looming February date hanging in my sub-conscious and the wonder of what we would learn.  Then BAM!  February was here all of the sudden and the feeling of dread about the follow-up appointment and my fear of "the unknown" resurfaced.

We had a 12-hour day at the Mayo Clinic.  We left the house at 5:30am to arrive for check in at 6:45.  Blood work at 7:15.  (I didn't pass out this time.  Yay!)  MRI at 9:15 with an IV. (Didn't pass out that time either when they put in the IV! I was on a roll!)  Then we waited until 3:30pm to meet with my neurologist who headed my medical team for an update.  It was a long few hours.  We grabbed lunch...went shopping...  When we returned, we sat in the cancer wing's waiting room for an hour and a half.  I realized my neurologist has 13 specialties, many of which are cancer-related, and that was why he was working in that wing that day.  But it was so hard to sit there and see some of his other patients going in and out of the doors.  And, yes, I wondered if this was a hint as to what my update would entail. 

Luckily, my deepest fears were just that: pointless fears.  My doctor said my "abnormality/scar tissue" in my brain had remained the same size (20% of what it used to be) and was never going to have an impact on my health.  He wants to check my brain waves in August, wean me off the anti-seizure medication, and do one final MRI in February 2013.  The best part was when he said I was given a clean bill of health.  It was a shock.  I was one of the few people who left his office with a giant smile on my face that day and relief in my heart.  We will probably never know the cause of this fluke brain extravaganza, but I am confident in my doctor - if he says I'm good to go, I'm good to go!  I am one of his few lucky patients.

Everything happens for a reason.  These past few months have reshaped the person I am today.  I re-evaluated everything and everyone in my life.  In January, I didn't make New Year's resolutions because I have found that when you label something a "NYR," it goes nowhere fast.  But instead, I made some goals for myself that would be lifelong vs. short term.  The first thing I did was rid myself of all negativity.  I let go of people who were toxic in my life, and a weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders.  Mind you, I have no ill feelings toward those people...I wish them well and hope they will one day be able to make some positive changes in their lives...they just no longer have a place in mine.  I let go of toxic memories, feelings that had been floating around inside my head for, well, as old as decades.  I forgave myself for mistakes I had made in my life.  Then I vowed to bring into my life only positivity from here on out.  I began working out, which was a huge deal for me, and I began eating way healthier than I had in a long time.  Any friends I made were only ones who were positive people, not just on the surface, but in their hearts.  These changes have greatly impacted my personal life and my photography business.  I feel physically and mentally healthy.  My spirit is alive.  I have an extra spring in my step.  Change in good, people!

So what is next?  Receiving that clean bill of health was so freeing.  I feel limitless.  I've got some great new business goals in motion for this year.  I'm so blessed to be traveling around the country this year photographing weddings in Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina and gorgeous St. Lucia!  Jason and I are also getting some personal goals in order, now that we know I'm completely healthy...and began talking about starting a family.  Anything is possible.

I don't know that I would have come to this current amazing place in my life if it weren't for all that had happened during the last 6 months.  I always tell people to look for the good in every situation, no matter how dark and desolate it may be.  Good is always present - you just have to be open and often fearless to search for and find it.  I will never forget the last 6 months.  As difficult as they were, they were the wake-up call, the permission I needed to go ahead and change my life to what I dreamed it would be.  Everything happens for a reason...and I will embrace everything - the bad and the good - that will come my way in the future.

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